LONDON, Feb 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Men and women must “redouble” their efforts to fight for gender equality, London’s mayor said on Tuesday, as Britain marks a century since women won the right to vote.
The Representation of the People Act of 1918 allowed property-owning women over the age of 30 to vote, following campaigns by the women’s suffrage movement, including radical suffragettes whose tactics included arson and bomb attacks.
“The suffragettes and suffragists thought that getting the vote would be enough, that that would equal gender equality,” Sadiq Khan told reporters in Trafalgar Square, where Britain’s suffragettes famously rallied for women’s right to vote.
“But the bad news is: one hundred years on, it’s still the case that there is gender inequality ... So all of us who are feminists have to redouble our efforts to ensure we have gender equality,” he said at an exhibition about the movement.
Few women in Britain hold top positions and salary differences have attracted significant public attention, with large businesses required to publish pay gap figures this year.
Women working for the BBC have complained they are paid less than men in equivalent jobs and accused managers of misleading them about their pay to hide widespread gender discrimination at Britain’s public broadcaster.
“You look at the senior positions in business, in journalism, in politics - there are too few women, not because they’re not talented but because there’s gender inequality,” Khan said.
Women in Britain earn 18 percent less than men on average, government data shows.
Half of young British women surveyed by the Fawcett Society did not believe they would live to see equal representation in parliament, the rights group - named after the moderate suffragist Millicent Fawcett - said on Tuesday.
It also called for the pardoning of suffragettes who were jailed for their political campaigning.
“It would be a fitting tribute to pardon them now. They made such sacrifices so that we could all enjoy the rights we have today,” said chief executive Sam Smethers in a statement.
Fawcett - who led a peaceful campaign for equal rights including petitions, lobbying members of parliament and non-violent protests - will become the first woman honoured with a statue in London's Parliament Square. (Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, gender equality, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories)